Boren Awards


There are three (3) types of awards: Boren Scholarships (for undergraduates), Boren Fellowships (for graduate students), and grants from the Language Flagship Program, which are designed to help students achieve superior-level proficiency in critical languages. Flagship students participate in intensive language programs offered at selected undergraduate institutions.


Boren Scholarships provide American undergraduate students with the resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experiences in areas of the world critical to the future security of our nation, in exchange for their commitment to seek work in the federal government.

Boren Fellowships provide U.S. graduate students the opportunity to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency.

Both Boren awards focus on countries, languages, and fields critical to U.S. national security, recognizing a broad definition that includes traditional concerns of protecting American well-being, as well as challenges of global society, such as sustainable development, environmental issues, disease, migration, and economic competitiveness.


The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the Boren Scholarships, Boren Fellowships, and The Language Flagship Fellowships and Grants on behalf of the National Security Education Program. IIE is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building international goodwill through educational and cultural exchange among nations.

By enabling more than 18,000 outstanding men and women each year to study, conduct research, receive practical training, or provide technical assistance outside their own countries, IIE fosters mutual understanding, builds global problem-solving capabilities, and strengthens the international competence of U.S. citizens.


  • Must be a U.S. citizen at the time of application.
  • Must be matriculated in an undergraduate degree program in the U.S. and accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Boren Scholars must remain matriculated in their undergraduate programs for the duration of the scholarship.
  • Must apply to a study-abroad program that meets home institution standards in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Boren Scholarships are not for study in the United States.
  • For the Boren Scholarship: Must be a high school graduate, or have earned a GED.
  • For the Boren Fellowship: Must be a graduate student at the start of the award period.


All Boren Scholarship and Fellowship Applicants Must Address National Security in their Essays. The Boren program focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

It draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including: sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.

Boren Scholarship applicants explain the significance of their study abroad experience (including the region they selected, its culture, and the language they will study) to U.S. national security, broadly defined.

Boren Fellowship applicants need to explain how their project, region, and language of study relate to U.S. national security, broadly defined. The broad definition of national security means that applicants studying a variety of fields can relate their international and language study interests to U.S. national security.

Please see the following interpretations of national security as examples:

  • Security studies or diplomacy – Students studying international affairs, history, or political science could discuss the bilateral relationship between the United States and the country in which they propose to study. Previous topics include U.S - Turkey Bilateral Relationship, USA-China Comparative Law, and Political Parties in Egypt.
  • International trade- Applicants studying business or economics might make the case that the United States is more secure with stable trading partners. Former case studies include Global Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, China-Origin Trade-Based Money Laundering: Trends and Solutions, and The Decentralization of Fisheries in Cambodia.
  • Sustainable development or global disease – Students focusing on these issues could argue that regional stability is threatened by global poverty, environmental degradation, or disease, and that U.S. security is enhanced by combating these concerns. Previous research includes HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Programs in East Africa; Famine in French Algeria: Environmental Disaster and Colonial Policy; and Taiwan: Climate Change and Energy, Beyond the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

With this broad definition, you should not feel compelled to limit your focus or concentrate your statement of purpose or essay in an area in which you are not truly interested. Rather, in your statement of purpose/essay, it is imperative that you articulate your interpretation of national security and make a compelling case about why your experience/project, region, and language are important.


In exchange for funding, all recipients of Boren grants must be willing to complete one year of service either to the Federal Government or in an area of education related to their language study.


Boren Scholarships promote long term linguistic and cultural immersion; therefore, study-abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year academic study. Boren-funded programs can begin no earlier than June 1st.

Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or longer and are limited to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students.

Boren Fellowships promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion. Boren Fellowship awards are made for a minimum of 12 weeks and maximum of 24 months. Overseas programs can be no longer than one year. Preference will be given to applicants proposing overseas programs of 6 months or longer. However, applicants proposing overseas programs of 3-6 months, especially those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, are encouraged to apply.


Boren Scholarships are awarded with preference for countries, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security. Preference is also given to students who will study abroad for longer periods of time, and who are highly motivated by the opportunity to work in the federal government.

Boren Scholars may study abroad in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students may apply to study in any country outside of the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

All Boren Fellows must study a foreign language appropriate to the country in which they are studying abroad.

For a list of preferred countries in which to study, see this website:

For a preferred list of languages to study, see this website:

For a preferred list of fields of study, see this website:


The African Languages Initiative (AFLI) offers Boren Fellowship applicants the opportunity to study African languages and cultures by participating in domestic and overseas language programs in Swahili, Yoruba, Zulu, Akan/Twi, Hausa, Wolof, and Portuguese.

The official domestic programs are administered by the University of Florida, Gainesville, while the official overseas programs are administered by the American Councils for International Education. In addition to completing the Boren Fellowship application, all AFLI applicants must complete relevant domestic and/or overseas program applications.

Admittance into the AFLI domestic and overseas programs does not influence the review of the Boren Fellowship application. Not everyone who is accepted into the University of Florida and/or American Councils for International Education programs will win a Boren Fellowship.


BOREN SCHOLARSHIPS: provide funding to U.S. undergraduates to fund a full academic year of academic and language study in geographic regions traditionally underrepresented by study abroad programs. Traditionally, Sophomores and Juniors apply for these grants.

Maximum scholarship awards are:

  • $8,000 for a summer program (special initiative for STEM students only)
  • $10,000 for a semester
  • $20,000 for a full academic year

BOREN FELLOWSHIPS: Boren Fellowships provide up to $24,000 for overseas study. In addition, Boren Fellowships can provide limited funding for domestic language study that will supplement the overseas component. The maximum award for a combined overseas and domestic program is $30,000.


The Boren Scholarships offer a special initiative for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors. The scholarships fund up to $8,000 for summer study (minimum of 8 weeks) for students majoring in the STEM fields.

All other applicants must plan to study overseas for at least a semester. STEM field majors may also apply for semester and year programs.

All students applying for Boren Scholarships are expected to have a significant language component as part of their proposed study abroad program. Although many STEM students choose study-abroad programs that offer courses in STEM fields, they are not required.


  1. Consult with a faculty adviser about your plan.
  2. Consult with Prof. Bell about your plan and throughout your application process.
  3. Download and complete a Pre-Application for Boren Awards. Forward it, along with all of the supplementary documents, to Prof. Bell. For a copy of the form, CLICK HERE
  4. Read the Boren Application process and familiarize yourself with the Boren website.
  5. Click here for application instructions: Application Instructions
  6. Select a study abroad program.


  • There are a number of resources available to you. Most students consult their Campus Representative, study abroad office, and Boren Scholarship Staff at IIE. You may also consult IIEPassport, an online study abroad directory with more than 7,000 study abroad programs worldwide.

The Boren Scholarship classifies all study abroad programs as falling into six categories. To view a list of these categories, see this website: Boren Awards Options.

  • Boren Scholarships promote long term linguistic and cultural immersion, and therefore study abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year academic study.
  • If full-year opportunities in the same program are unavailable, students may study abroad on two different study abroad programs. We encourage consecutive programs of study; these applications could be for summer and year programs; fall and spring semesters; summer and fall semesters; or spring and summer semesters. 

    These applications would then be considered together, and if the total length of study exceeds six months, they receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs must entail study of the same language. For more information on split programs, click here: Boren Awards Split Programs
  • The Boren Scholarship emphasizes the importance of language study as a major component of your study abroad program. All study abroad programs do not offer the same opportunities to learn a language. The language component must incorporate opportunities to learn a language in a context that is meaningful to your language proficiency and language learning goals. You should take into account any prior knowledge and experience in the proposed language when selecting and designing your study abroad program. 
    If you already have studied the language, you should consider what opportunities the program will provide for you to advance your proficiency. If you have not studied the language, you should consider what the program offers you in opportunities to make substantial progress. Among the issues you should consider in selecting your program are:
    • Does the program offer language courses that emphasize rigorous study and practical use of the contemporary language leading to increased proficiency in reading, speaking, and listening?
    • How many classroom contact hours are offered in the language study? Will this be sufficient to increase your language proficiency?
    • Are there opportunities to study the language in small groups tailored to your proficiency level?
    • Who are the faculty who teach the language? Are they native speakers with extensive experience in teaching foreign students?
    • Is there a full-time U.S. resident director at the institution who will help oversee your academic and cultural programs and monitor your language learning?
    • Are there serious opportunities for living in university housing or home-stays where the foreign language will be spoken on a regular basis? How are home-stay families selected?

Since the Boren Scholarship encourages students to study in countries whose languages are less commonly taught at U.S. institutions, it is anticipated that many students will not be familiar with the language of their chosen country. Prior study of another language will serve as an indication of interest and aptitude.




  1. Applicant Data
  2. Academic Data
  3. Other Academic Data
  4. Foreign Language Experience
  5. Applicant Experience Abroad
  6. Proposed Study Abroad Programs; includes Budget
  7. Financial Aid / Survey Data / Other Scholarship Information
  8. Statement of Purpose I: Rationale: Explain the significance of your proposed study abroad experience (including the region you selected, its culture, and the language you will study) as it relates to U.S. national security, broadly defined. Describe how the country, language, and study abroad program you selected will help you to achieve your academic and career goals, including your plans to fulfill the service requirement.
  9. Statement of Purpose II: Program Description (both the preferred and alternate programs). Describe the study abroad program’s course of study and related cultural activities, as well as the administrative and support services provided (i.e., facilities, housing, resident director, etc.). Describe the language component in as much detail as possible, including the number of classroom contact hours and information on language study opportunities outside of the classroom. Describe your past experience studying or speaking the language (or another language, if relevant), as well as your plans to continue studying or speaking the language following your Boren Scholarship.
    • The Statements of Purpose I & II are the most important parts of the application and give you an opportunity to present a rationale for studying abroad and to describe your proposed program.
    • Statements of Purpose should be no more than 6,000 characters each, not including spaces.
    • Statements of Purpose should be single-spaced, except when spaces separate paragraphs. For tips on writing these Statements, see this website: Boren SOP guide

Note: You must submit your application by the Campus Deadline. See the Timeline (hyperlink above) for specific dates. You will not be able to review your application after you submit it online. You will not be able to access your work after the application deadline.


Submit the following supplemental hard copy materials to Prof. Bell, your Boren Campus Representative, by your on-Campus Deadline:

  1. Completed letters of reference. Letters of reference must be signed, original letters in an envelope with the signature across the seal, when they are submitted to your Campus Representative. Two letters are required; you may include a third, optional letter. For tips on getting strong letters of reference, see this website: Boren Reference Letters Guide.
  2. Official, hard copy, transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Freshmen must also include high school transcripts.
  3. One page study abroad program description with cost information. (This may be a page from the program’s website or a photocopy of part of the program brochure.) If you set up a direct enrollment or individually arranged study abroad program, please provide two letters of support. The first letter should be from your home institution and the second letter should be from your overseas host institution.
  4. Language self-assessment (copy on the Boren website)
  5. Language proficiency form (optional) (copy on the Boren website)(if applicable)
  6. Letters of support for direct enrollment

Submit all of these documents to Prof. Bell by the Campus Deadline.She will send them to the Boren Scholarships headquarters in Washington, DC. Your online application must be completed by the Campus Deadline. Once you have submitted these documents and uploaded your application, you will schedule an interview with MMC’s Campus Evaluation Committee, the final part of your application.


Consult this website: Writing a Boren Essay


Read up on some of the amazing things our previous Boren Scholars have accomplished.

Archived Headlines


The application process takes time. You cannot begin at the last minute. You must give your application a great deal of thought. The essays alone will require research and they will go through many drafts. You will seek advice from faculty advisers and from Prof. Bell. You must meet the Campus Deadlines stipulated on the Timeline or your application will not be recommended.

Even if you do not receive a grant, the process is worth your time, as you will gain a great deal of valuable experience in the process of writing a grant application. If you are successful and win an award, the benefits to your future career are considerable. You will gain invaluable, extended exposure to a foreign country, culture, language, and community. You will pursue your academic research and enrich your intellectual life. You will make contacts for an exciting career